Virtual reality is an incredible medium. It can transport us to whole new worlds and allow us to explore things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. While many could argue that traditional video games and movies could do effectively the same thing, there is nothing quite like the immersion that a VR experience can bring. And as amazing and immersive as these experiences can be, there are a few downsides to the technology that not many like to talk about.
While most of these aren’t dealbreakers by any means, they do exist, and we thought it would be unfair if we didn’t address them. These are the 5 biggest downsides to VR.
1: The Setup
Most of the virtual reality experiences available on the market today require quite a bit of set up to get going. You’ll often have to move your PC or console to a better location, hide or cover breakable objects like your TV, and overall spend a fair bit of time making sure everything is safe and ready to go. This can take quite a bit of time, and by the time you actually finish moving everything around you may not even feel like playing anymore. Add in the fact that you’ll have to break down everything as soon as you’re finished with the session, and the motivation to boot up that game just drops out the window. Many people have whole rooms dedicated to making sure their experience is ready to go on a moments notice, but this is not the case for the average consumer.
2: Required Movement
Sometimes you just want to get home, lay down on the couch, and use a controller to relax and play some games on your couch. This isn’t really possible with virtual reality. Especially with more advanced headsets like the HTC Vive, it is often necessary to set up base stations, move objects out of the way, and move around the room to truly experience the application. While this full range of movement is a positive experience more often than not, if you’re feeling lazy it will probably stop you from even putting on the headset at all. I think we’ve all had times where we got home and plopped on the couch with a game and a controller and just wanted to lay down and relax. That isn’t really possible with most virtual reality experiences.
3: The Headsets
There is no denying that virtual reality headsets are bulky. One of the worst offenders is the HTC Vive, with it’s bulbous frame that protrudes quite a bit from the front of your face. Though HTC have made sure there is a decent amount of support to keep the thing on your head and try to mitigate any neck strain, extended gaming periods make it pretty evident that this thing is on your head.
Add in the fogging that can happen to the lenses during more serious play sessions, and you’ve got quite an issue on your hands. Most of the face pads for these headsets are washable, but they can get pretty grimey if you don’t take care of them correctly. Add in the fact that eye glass support was never really implemented correctly, and you’ve got the potential for a relatively uncomfortable experience when all is said and done.
4: The Cost/Length Structure of Games
One of the biggest problems plaguing virtual reality at the moment is the lack of full-fledged content. While the Playstation VR has a decent amount of full titles to take advantage of, many games on other platforms continue to demand traditional prices while offering much less content. The problem here is that almost all developers are still brand new to creating virtual reality titles, so the workflow has not been ironed out to the point where they can push out a full game in the same timeframe. Because of this, many developers are forced to release half-baked content that is significantly shorter than something you would purchase on a traditional gaming platform like PC or a console.
A lot of these titles are little more than tech demos, but because the audience for virtual reality is much smaller, developers are forced to demand higher prices in order to justify the development process. This will probably get ironed out down the road as development becomes more refined and the headset market gets more saturated, but for now it can be frustrating to spend $60 on a game and finish it in 2 hours.
5: Lack of a Player Base
There are some pretty incredible multiplayer virtual reality experiences that have been released since the uprising of the platform, but the plain lack of players can make it extremely frustrating to actually find an opponent to play with or against. While some more co-operative titles have developed relatively tight-nit communities that make it fun to get to know your virtual reality friends, it’s pretty seldom that you can jump into a multiplayer experience with no co-ordination and find new players to face off against for hours at a time.
This base will likely grow significantly over the next couple of years as the headsets become more affordable, but for now it can be difficult to find players for multiplayer experiences.
Many of these issues will be mitigated over time with the development of virtual reality technology, but for now it’s pretty understandable why many consumers would want to wait for a generation 2 or 3 to iron out a lot of these caveats. Of course, we should also note that mobile VR doesn’t have as many problems in the setup and movement front, but then again, they are much more limited experiences.
The good news is many of these headsets have been out for a year or more at this point, so it would not be surprising if we began so see some pretty significant revisions hitting the market this year.